DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Just got off the practice field, had a good practice, and we're moving on to Carolina."
Was there any special sense of urgency at practice today after such a difficult loss to Atlanta?
"No. It was a good practice. The guys were excited to get back to work. We went through the game tape. We spent a good deal of time on that and that was productive. We tried to make the corrections and get ready for a tough football game on Sunday."
How is WR Derrick Mason's finger doing?
"He's got it wrapped up in a splint of some kind. It looks like it is swollen a little bit. He had some kind of procedure done on it. I don't know exactly what, but he should be fine for Sunday. As he says, it goes with the territory."
With seven games left, do you have a sense that the loss on Thursday was a missed opportunity to gain some ground in putting distance between the Ravens and other teams?
"Every time you don't win in this league it's a missed opportunity. You look around the league – it's tough. Week-in and week-out, it's a battle every single week, and teams pull things out by the skin of their teeth and lose games just the same way, and it's close, and every game's a dogfight it seems like. It's just the way it's going to be this year, just like it is every year. So certainly, if we would have won that game on Thursday night, it would have been great for us. We would have been tied for the best record in the National Football League. We didn't, so we aren't. We're 6-3, and we'll work from there."
Did you turn in the play at the end of the game with CB Josh Wilson for the league to review?
"We turned in the Josh Wilson play and we turned in a number of other plays. Is there a follow-up question?"
Have you heard anything from the league?
"Well, we talked on Friday with Carl Johnson [NFL vice president of officiating]. I'm not allowed to say what the conversation was. We haven't got the final report back yet or I would be fined. So, that's how it works."
For the past 10 road games the Ravens have not scored in the first half in five of those games. Is that something you feel you need to address specifically?
"Like what? What do you think? We should score more? Hey, I'm for that. That's my deal, too. Let's score more earlier on the road. That's something we want to do. It's like, 'OK, that's the deal… We aren't scoring on the road?' There's way more things that go into it than that. It's specific things. It's specific issues. It's play by play, drive by drive. Execution is what it really boils down to. There's not some formula for scoring on the road early in a drive. There's executing – executing on the road, executing at home, tackling the defense effectively, throwing, catching, blocking, tackling. That's what it really boils down to – playing well. If we had played better in the first half, we wouldn't have been down, whatever the score was in the first half – 10 [points] I think. And, that's what we've got to try to do."
But won't you admit that the team has played better in the second half of road games?
"Thanks for pointing that out. I appreciate that. We've got to get better. That's the thing. We're a good football team right now. If we get better, this week to next week to the week after, we're going to be a force to contend with in this race. And, that's our job. That's what we've got to get done. We've got to improve, and we're very determined to do that."
Were you aware of the early game struggles on the road before that question just came up?"I watch every game, inside-out, upside-down, backwards and forwards. So, if there is a specific question about something that's specific, I'd be happy to answer it for you. Something like that… I mean, do you want to talk about a drive? You want to talk about some specific play? That'd be great. That other thing, that doesn't help us win. We're trying to look at all of the things that are football-related to help us get better."
How tough is it to prepare for Carolina with all of the injuries they've suffered, and do you have to go back to old film just because there isn't a lot of video on some of the guys that may play?"It's going to be interesting to see what happens. We're going to have to prepare for Tony [Pike], absolutely, along with [Jimmy] Clausen. Obviously, they've got two good, young rookie quarterbacks there. You don't always know what you're going to get with a rookie quarterback; it could be really good and it might not be so good. Having played those guys over the years, we're going to test them, either one of them, [and] find out really what they're made of. I think that's what you have to do with a rookie quarterback. And whichever one it is, we'll find out how ready they are as the week [goes on]. That's our job."
Is WR Armanti Edwards kind of a wild card because he was a collegiate quarterback and also poses a running threat?"Yeah, well I remember… Wasn't he the guy that had the win against Michigan? Yeah, pretty talented guy. We don't know much about him, but that is a wild card. We'll probably have to be ready for some wildcat-type stuff."
Was there anything specifically drawn up for OLB Terrell Suggs against Atlanta, or did he just have more success with his one-on-one battles?"I think a little bit of both. We had a couple of schemes drawn up for him, but more than that, it was better one-on-one success, I would say. I think Terrell has been bringing it pretty regularly, and he had a little more success and got a sack, or whatever he got in the game. I don't think there's any question that Terrell is going to be a force as a pass rusher the second half of the season. We all want to make sure that happens, but he's very determined to make sure that happens, and he's a good pass rusher."
What specifically does this team need to get better at, and are you happy with where you are after nine games, tied for first place in the AFC North?"There are a lot of specific things, really. It's many, many specific things in each phase, at each position group. And those are the things that we spent a long time Friday as a staff going through with a fine tooth comb. All the position coaches, I think, and the coordinators were on top of it, but we went through it all as a staff and kind of diagnosed what all those things are. We took it to the team today, and the players already know. The players, they're very introspective. They know their issues, and then we kind of work it out together. We work on scheme, we work on technique, we work on a lot of things. So, that's a tough job, but we can do it. We have the people to do it; we have very talented people here. As far as where we're at, you know I'd rather be – let's see [we're] 6-3 – I'd rather be 9-0. So, are we happy with 6-3? No, but that's what we are. We are on top of the division, and we have our fate in our own hands, if that's what you're talking about. We can accomplish whatever we want and whatever we're able to accomplish this year. We're going to try to do it."
Are you pleased with the way the run defense stepped up this week against a physical back like Michael Turner?"That was something we felt we had to do. We had to stop the run. You know, if you control the run against those guys, normally you win. And we weren't able to do that at the end of the game, but the run defense was good. That was a big plus for us. [Atlanta has a] good offensive line [and a] really good back."
Did you feel like WR Donte' Stallworth provided a spark on his running plays? "Yeah, I'm sure Carolina will be all over that. When Donte' is in the game, they'll be looking for that. But it was a huge spark. It shows you those plays work a lot better when a fast guy is running them, and he showed his speed on that."
Analyzing the tape as you did as a staff over the weekend, is that something that you were able to do only because you had the extra time? "I'd say so. We had three days basically to do some things we normally don't do, so [it was] kind of a mini-bye week that way."
Given the level of your guys, do you need to verbally remind them that you need to play well no matter what Carolina's record is or do they know that? "I don't think you need to remind them of that. I think you're right. They know it. We have to win this game if we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish as a football team. That's motivation enough. Plus, we understand the team we're going against – and we say it every week – and so often people kind of say, 'Well…' They kind of… I don't know what their response is sometimes, but these are good football teams we're playing. Look at Carolina on tape. Look at their offensive line. Look at their running backs. Look at the people they have at wide receiver. Look at their defense and the way they run to the ball. You know, they haven't found ways to win games, but they're playing very good football, and they're capable of winning a football game in this league. That's been proven time and time again with the people we've played already. We have our work cut out for us. It's going to be a tough football game down there, and that's what we're preparing for. I know you guys say, 'Well, coach has got to say that.' Well yeah, but we say it because we believe it, because it's going to be a big challenge. And that's what we've got to get done."
Now that S Ed Reed has been back for three weeks, things seem to have changed in the secondary with other teams having a lot of success. How has the dynamic changed now that Ed is back, and are you looking at that closely to fine-tune some things? "You build around your players. That's kind of the point. You build around the guys you have – and it probably builds differently around Ed Reed than it builds around another safety. So, that's something, obviously, you're always working for. But, Ed has played well. I don't think there's any play you can point to and say, 'Well, Ed's not playing well.' You know, he's playing well. He's had three interceptions. He's a factor pretty much in every play. So, if there's anything specific in the passing game that we haven't done a good job with, it doesn't really relate to Ed."
Someone could say the pass defense was better statistically before Ed got there, and now that he's back things have changed. "Well, unless you've got a connection there, I mean… We all learned this in science. It's a spurious correlation. It might just be a spurious correlation, to throw one out there. What do you think? You guys impressed?" (laughter)
Reporter answers: "I don't even know what that means."
"It means that's not the connection. Yeah, that's not the reason. If we're not playing as good of pass defense – which I'm not sure that's true – but if that's the case, then it's not because of Ed Reed or that he's back there or that we've got to find some formula with Ed. It's specific things to specific plays."
Yesterday, the Dolphins lost their top two quarterbacks and had a third available on the roster. How much does a scenario like that force you to reconsider keeping only two quarterbacks on your roster? "We're not going to react to what happens around the league. If you do that, you'd be reacting… You'd be back and forth all the time. We've made a decision what way we want to go. If we were to lose both of our quarterbacks in a game, that would be a problem. But, we've made a decision to balance out the fact that that's so highly unlikely – although it can happen – the fact that we'd rather have an extra player on the roster. So, if that happens, we'll probably go with Anquan Boldin and try to win a football game, and then make our way the next week, however we had to."
Have you seen Anquan's arm in practice? How does he look? "Oh, he's dynamic, he's dynamite. He's zipping it all around. He shreds our defense on a regular basis." (laughter)